People power has prevailed for the time being at Ayton and energy company EnergieKontor UK’s planning application for a 60 metre meteorological mast to be put up at Prenderguest Farm was turned down this week.
There were 27 letters of objection that came before Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee on Monday, but despite a recommendation from planning officials that the mast should be allowed, the planning committee sided with the objectors and concluded that it would “stick out like a sore thumb.”
The previous 22 applications for similar meteorological masts (used to guage wind speed and conditions to determine a site’s suitability for a wind farm) have been approved by Scottish Borders Council’s planners and campaigners see this as something of a victory – however, small.
Describing the decision as “historic”, the Oppose Blackmains group said: “The planning committee determined that the open nature of the rolling lowland Merse landscape, with its high inter-visibility, is unable to support such a large structure, even if it is ‘temporary’ and ‘lightweight’. This visibility and the loss of prime agricultural land were key determinants among the reasons for refusal.
“The reasons for refusal cast serious doubt on possible future planning applications for large industrial turbines at both Horn Burn and nearby Blackmains (by Cairncross). The planning committee also noted that planning policy with respect to renewables needed to be reviewed to better protect lowland areas from future inappropriate development.
“This decision vindicates the considerable strength of local opinion objecting to the planning application.
“The councillors on the planning committee are to be congratulated for their insightful decision-making, which has set a clear sense of direction and much needed clarity regarding the planning merits of industrial wind turbines ‘descending’ from upland areas to be sited in open lowland areas close to communities.
“Local feeling remains strong in opposition to both Blackmains and Horn Burn. Buoyed by this victory, that opposition is now focused on achieving the ultimate goal of stopping ill-conceived and inappropriate wind turbine applications in the area, thereby helping to sustain our beautiful Berwickshire and its special landscape for future generations.”
There were no objections from statutory consultees such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Ayton Community Council or the Ministry of Defence. However the MoD did add: “We appreciate that a development of this nature is usually a precursot/trial for the validity of a windfarm, and we could have concerns should this site be further developed into a wind farm.”
In recommending the mast application for approval, planning officers warned that many of the objections focused on the potential for windfarm development on the site which was not what was being applied for at this time and the mast being applied for “will not have a significant long term impact on the landscape”.
Speaking after hearing the council’s decision a spokesperson from EnergieKontor said: “From our point of view it was a very disappointing decision, both for the project and our business.
“There hasn’t been one mast refused in the Borders for some time so what we had we thought was quite compliant. We are going to have to look at the reasons for the refusal.
“We have seen the decision notice and the reasons but it’s too early for us to say whether or not we will appeal.”